Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An Alternative for Boating Enthusiasts, Dreamers, and Snowbirds

On a recent trip down to Palm Beach, my cousin Brian invited me to his marina club for the day. While sharing similarities to the yacht clubs in the northeast that I'm more familiar with, I was intrigued about the differences.

The Marina Club at Jonathan's Landing has private slips for members, a lounge with waterfront restaurant, lots of social activities, and reciprocity with other clubs around the country. But it also has a newly renovated boat storage facility, with interior space for boats up to 40 feet and 24/7 security, and a program called Boat Fleet, an alternative to boat ownership.

For a yearly fee, members of the Boat Fleet program have access to 30 different boats: a variety of center console fishing boats, bow riders, and cabin cruisers from 21 to 46 feet. All but the two largest boats can be taken out by members after they've attended a one-on-one training class, new-boat orientation, and a boating safety course. (The 40- and 46-footers require a captain.) You simply call ahead to reserve the boat you want.

There is one glitch: Although the marina takes care of any maintenance issues and all the boats are insured, there is the potential for damage when sending members out after only one training session. When we took one of the boats out, the rudder indicator was broken and the steering was so tight you could barely turn the wheel. Fortunately my cousin has spent quite a bit of time on these boats and can get himself out of a jam. But on-the-water troubleshooting training would probably be beneficial to members.

With reliable maintenance and thorough training, this can be a great alternative for boating enthusiasts who don't have enough free time to warrant the costs of having their own boat or snowbirds who store their boats over the winter rather than transporting them back and forth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out Freedom Boat Club if you are interested in a simple alternative to boat ownership.